It may seem unfair on a filmmaker to judge their project in accordance with winning the prestigious Golden Lion award at Venice Film Festival, but it’s hard not to take it into consideration. So while Lorenzo Vigas’ triumphant endeavour From Afar may be an accomplished endeavour, it’s not a special enough film to merit such an accolade. Then again, this is the same festival that awarded the same prize to a documentary about a motorway a couple years back, and that wasn’t much more exciting than it sounds.

Vigas’ story revolves around 50 year old Armando (Alfredo Castro), an even-tempered recluse with an fondness for juvenile boys, who he pays to keep him company. One of which is the eruptive, volatile gang leader Elder (Luis Silva). Unable to be trusted at first, for the latter these meetings are an elementary means of stealing, both objects from his customer’s abode, and money from his wallet. But Armando masochistically beseeches for more, while we come to learn that the introvert’s deep rooted issues are as a result of a tumultuous upbringing from his father – who just recently returned to the city.

The Venezuelan From Afar presents itself as an intimate character study, epitomised in how the camera tends to linger around a foot behind our two protagonist’s heads, as we voyeuristically pursue them. Yet in spite of the close proximity, we never quite feel as though we quite understand this pair of complex, troubled individuals. It’s ironically emblematic of the film’s title, as it feels like the distance of which we’re watching this narrative unfold, unable to feel truly immersed nor affected. But that’s not to say there isn’t any depth to the two lead roles, as intriguing creations with many subtle layers – while the patriarchal dynamic between them offers much to ruminate over, particularly it seems how fractured, fraught and in the youngster’s case, non-existent their relationships with their own respective fathers were.

This title also bears shades of Robin Compillo’s narratively similar Easter Boys, but unlike the aforementioned, French production, From Afar revels more predominantly in simplicity. The former went down a myriad of tangents and focused on too many themes, while this picture, though flawed, remains exclusively, and laudably, about their relationship.